The Weeknd was appointed the newest Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme at a formal reception on Tuesday (Oct. 7) in Los Angeles.
Hosted at West Hollywood’s Ysabel restaurant, the board members of the U.N. World Food Programme were joined by major music executives such as Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grange, Universal Music Publishing Group chairman/CEO Jody Gerson, Motown Records chairman/CEO Ethiopia Habtemariam, Columbia Records co-head of urban music Shawn Holliday, and The Weeknd’s manager Wassim “Sal” Slaiby as well as his wife Rima Fakih Slaiby, who was appointed to the WFP’s USA division board of directors in April. Upon arrival, attendees were given a colorful pinwheel brooch that represented the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals established in 2015. The mustard yellow-colored portion, representing goal No. 2, is for “zero hunger.” The U.N. World Food Programme provides life-saving food assistance to more than 100 million people living in more than 80 countries every year.
“We’re gonna wake up and shake up the world and the world leaders. And we need a superstar, a Super Bowl hero, to come out and be our super hero,” said U.N. World Food Programme executive director David Beasley. “We need someone like The Weeknd to help wake up the world with passion, that will come and help deliver that message, wake up the young people, wake up the business leaders, wake up the political leaders.”
He later presented the award-winning musician with an official letter announcing him as a Goodwill Ambassador. “We need your heart, we need your voice. You’re gonna help us save millions of people around the world, so thank you,” Beasley said warmly while wrapping his arm around him.
— World Food Program USA (@WFPUSA) October 7, 2021
WFP USA president/CEO Barron Segar discussed how The Weeknd was introduced to the WFP through the Slaiby couple, after he called Sal out of the blue and connected with them, turning a fundraising connection into an “amazing friendship.”
In early April, the superstar (real name Abel Tesfaye), who was born to Ethiopian immigrant parents in Canada, donated $1 million to provide two million meals to those in Ethiopia needing food aid during the ongoing conflict between the Tigray region and the government. “My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are being displaced out of fear and destruction,” he wrote on his Instagram account at the time.
Exactly two weeks prior to being named a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. World Food Programme, the “Blinding Lights” singer received the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award at the first-ever Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) Music in Action Awards. The 31-year-old artist has donated millions to Ethiopia and Lebanon as well as various Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 relief organizations within the last year.
Those interested in donating to the U.N. World Food Programme and learning more about what’s happening in Ethiopia can visit The Weeknd’s official WFP USA landing page here.